“Shall oppressed humanity find no asylum on this globe?” These haunting words, first spoken in 1801 by President Thomas Jefferson in the face of fresh xenophobia gripping our nation, continue to condemn our nation’s unwillingness to provide sanctuary to those in need. The current administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy has separated young children from their families with no plan to reunite them, continues to imprison asylum-seekers and seeks to deny immigrants due process. As politicians denounce President Trump’s actions on cable TV and organizations rush to provide support and relief to undocumented immigrants, many Americans want to know what they can do to help during this humanitarian crisis.
2: Donate. If you are financially able, monetary contributions are needed by many deserving organizations. The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) is a Texas-based non-profit working to reunite families and provide children with legal counsel in immigration court. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a national organization which is raising money to defend immigrant parents who have been separated from their children. Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) partners with major law firms to ensure that no child appears in court alone. There are countless other organizations doing wonderful work to help reunite undocumented families and help them gain asylum. However, be careful not to donate to phony organizations. You can utilize Charity Navigator to guarantee the impact of your donation.
3: Volunteer. If you have legal experience or speak Spanish, Mam, Q’eqchi’ or K’iche, the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) can utilize you in McAllen, Texas to help families currently detained. Please note that this organization is unable to pay for your travel or lodging.
You can also volunteer locally. Catholic Community Services (CCS) needs refugee mentors for their Refugee Resettlement program who can dedicate spend 2-3 hours a week for 4-6 months helping a family acquaint to life in Utah. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) needs volunteers who can do anything from helping at the Sunnyvale Farmers Market to being a friendly helper at their offices.
4: Organize Donation Drives. The Times recently published still-life photos of everything immigrants bring when crossing our southern border: a dirty change of clothes, mostly used toiletries, a well-worn wallet, a bruised banana, an empty water bottle. These individuals fleeing gang violence, political unrest and financial stagnation are starting their lives over with almost nothing. You may have the personal resources to supply a person with everything they need on their feet, but by taking the time to work with others to collect these items, you are cultivating a culture of inclusion and charity within your community.
Items need by the Salt Lake CCS for their immigrant and refugee resettlement program can be found here.
5: Register Yourself or Help Others Register to Vote. Americans have the opportunity to choose our political leaders each November. If you are angry about the current state of our country, make sure you are registered to vote and take the time to vote. You can also remind those around you to exercise their enfranchisement. Do not vote based off of party lines, spend the time to research each candidate and vote for individuals who you believe will best represent your values at the local and national level.